“I need to go potty.”
“Of course you do…we’re late for the doctor, so you’re gonna just have to hold it.”
“But I can’t…I need to go now!”
“We can’t stop, Charlie, just hold it”
The stoplight is red. My steering wheel knuckles are white. Many miles away and very few minutes to spare lies the doctor’s office. We had intended to leave 15 minutes earlier, but my wife was late. Not that it would have mattered. I was not ready. Work piling up. Deadlines missed. Soccer practices, baby’s not sleeping, family in town, medicine not adminstered, work to be completed, laundry to be folded, quality time to be scheduled, red lights staying red and red and red and red…
“CHARLIE, JUST HOLD IT, GODDAMN IT!”
The intesnity of the scream startled even myself as I thought…”I supose I could have handled that better.”
Petit Mal Seizures
A few weeks back, my wife told me that she had begun to see Charlie, my four-year-old son, “space-off” from time to time and she asked if we should be concerned. Shortly there-after, I saw one of these “space-off” moments for myself. Basically, Charlie was mid-sentence at the dinner table, stopped, stared off into space for a few seconds, and then was back to normal. At first, I didn’t think much of it and told Lindsey not to worry. Charlie has a habit of getting ahead of himself, and I felt this was just an example of his brain working a little “over-time” to catch up with his thoughts.
Of course, these moments did not stop, and Lindsey continued to express concern to me, but since I wasn’t seeing them, I didn’t think much of it. On Friday (6/28/13) afternoon, I was home from work early and Charlie finally had one of these moments right in front me…Once again, he was mid-sentence, broke it off, (“Daddy, Daddy, for my birthday, can we……………..”) but this time, it lasted for a while, maybe 10-12 seconds. I knew right then what my wife new six weeks ago…this wasn’t good or normal.
Being the 21st century parents that we are, we Googled it. The internet in these instances can be both a blessing and curse. Our minds were filled with all types of crazy scenarios, but the diagnosis that we kept coming back to was a type of epilepsy called “Absence Seizures” (Also known as Petit Mal Seizures). We called the doctor and they asked us to come in the next day (a Saturday).
Time slowed down, Saturday arrived. Lindsey and I arranged for a sitter to watch Henry & Max, while Charlie, her and I went to see our pediatrician. After a brief consultation he told us an EEG was needed and that we would have one scheduled on Monday. And that was that.
The weekend was tough. We were filled with all sorts of emotions and feelings. As an added bonus, Charlie began to complain about a ringing in his ear, telling me at
one point, “Daddy, my ears don’t work.” I think Lindsey & I both wanted to learn more, but staying off The Google was a difficult, yet necessary task. Spending too much time there, when you don’t know the diagnosis, can send you into madness.
Monday arrived and the doctor called first thing in the morning. The EEG had been scheduled for 9am on Wednesday. And that was that.
The instructions were to keep Charlie up about an hour later the night before and try to wake him up an hour early. Lindsey and decided that I would take Charlie to the exam while Lindsey stayed home with the other two kids.
I was up early on Wednesday and had Charlie up by 6. We left for the exam around 7. The morning was unusually mild (mid 60’s) and Charlie needed a sweatshirt to keep warm. The hardest part was keeping him awake in the car. We headed to the hospital (about 40 min drive) and found a breakfast place close by.
After a grilled cheese breakfast (I might be Father of the Year), I realized that the appointment was still 30 minutes away. I found a park close to the hospital and Charlie had a blast exploring the new surroundings.
The time had finally come to head to the hospital. The waiting room was filled with toys, kids, and stressed parents. The eyes in that room is scene I will never forget. So much sadness.
The wait was not long and soon we were being led to the examination room.
The EEG lasted about an hour and included Charlie sitting on my lap as the nurse (Roslynn) placed about 15 nodes on his head. Charlie watched a show (“Good Luck Charlie”, you can’t make this stuff up!) on the Disney channel as the lights were dimmed. The nurse came in and out a few times and Charlie did great.
After the exam, a gentleman named Brad came in, and nervously said, “Hi, Mr. Younger. We don’t usually do this, but based on the exam results, we thought we should discuss the results with you immediately”. Charlie, still on my lap, felt like 100lbs and the white walls of the exam room seemed to close in on me…time slowed down and I feared the worst.
Brad went onto to tell me that since it was the day before the Holiday (July 3rd), and that results of the EEG had shown clear indications of activity, he had called our pediatrician and gotten the OK to share the results with us today. Further, he informed us that the neurologist had been watching the results in real time in his office and was also consulted. He had clearly seen indications of “Absence Seizures”, and felt we should know ASAP.
My heart was racing, but the results were both what we expected and actually were the best results we could hear. You can learn more about Absence Seizures here: http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/seizures/genconvulsive/absenceseizures/
You can also watch a pretty good video of an example of these seizures here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE6N0Da8Ce0
Basically, Charlie experiences short seizures many times a day (50-150). The nurse told me she stopped counting during the exam, but probably had five or six seizures during the thirty minute EEG. They last anywhere between 2-30 seconds and don’t cause any harm to Charlie. The biggest concern is that he might fall on the stairs or on the playground. Also, we must watch him in the water, as a brief loss of consciousness may cause issues.
It was a long morning and the sleep deprivation was more than Charlie could handle as he passed out in the car on the way home.
“Honey, it’s OK, we’re not that late” My wife said as she gently touched my arm.
I took a deep breath and the stop light finally turned green.
“Charlie, there’s a QuickTrip up ahead, how about we stop there and you can go potty, sound good?
“Yes…but hurry, I really have to go.”
“Ok, I’ll hurry. How about this, you look out the window and as soon as you see the QuickTrip sign, yell as loud as you can, just like Daddy did, OK?”
I gassed the Volkswagen Minvan and we raced ahead.
“Do you see the sign?” I asked.
“No.” Charlie quietly replied.
I went faster and we got closer. I saw the sign in the distance and asked again, “Charlie do you see it now?”
I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw Charlie looking intently out the window, holding himself with both hands, while his legs jiggled like butterly wings. I peered out and saw the QT sign fast approaching. Pleading now, I asked “Charlie, do you see the sign?”
Again, I gassed the van, our heads bumped against the headrests, the gas station was close now…”Charle, don’t you see it!”
“Daddy, do you hear me yelling?” Charlie asked.
Puzzled, I responded, “No”.
“Then I can’t see the sign”.
My wife and I smiled as I finally made the turn into the Quicktrip parking lot. Charlie hopped out and we were off and running to the potty, crisis averted.
A little while later, we were at the doctor’s office (only a couple of minutes late) for Charlie’s check up. It’s now been 5 weeks since the EEG. He’s been on medincine and the seizures have almost completly gone away. The doctor gave Charlie a great report and the prognosis is very good. The bottom line is that he should grow out of these in a few years time and it does not appear to be turning into anything greater. This is a small problem and we are truly blessed that it isn’t something more serious. Even the ringing in his ears has stopped and we’ve got our Charlie back.
These type of events teach you many things. Most notably, I must remember that all the small problems don’t matter. What does matter is your kids and your family. Charlie’s clarity of thought refreshes me. We can and should refuse to listen to the small stresses in this world. Deadlines are usually self imposed. The laundry always get done, the red light always turns green. Being a few minutes late will not impact the outcome. When the world is pestering us like an overbearing father racing a white mini van towards a Qicktrip, let’s say, “Do you hear me yelling? No? Then I can’t see your stresses”.
Thanks for your thoughts, prayers and support. Now, let’s go Enjoy The Day!